Australia accuses China of contributing to ‘climate of fear and division’ on coronavirus
Sydney: Australia’s foreign minister, in a speech on Tuesday, accused China of contributing to creating an atmosphere of “fear and division” on coronoviruses, as well as attacking Russia and Turkey for spreading germs about the disease.
Speaking at the Australian National University in Canberra, Maris Payne said the virus had provided fertile ground for fake news, and allegedly exposed the Twitter action on stage in exposing the role of Russia, China and Turkey .
“Twitter revealed more than 32,000 accounts as state-related information operations, with the company crediting Russia to China and Turkey,” Payne said.
“For our part, it is troubling that some countries are using the epidemic to undermine liberal democracy to promote their own more authoritarian model.”
Payne also labeled Beijing’s warning to citizens against traveling to Australia as “disintegration” due to potential racist attacks.
“At a time like this, what we need is cooperation and understanding,” she said.
He called on global bodies such as the World Health Organization for the nation to counter “slander”.
“We will do this through facts and transparency, underlined by liberal democratic values that we will continue to promote at home and abroad,” Payne said.
Tensions between Beijing and Canberra have steadily increased since Australia called for an international investigation into the origin of the coronovirus and its handling by China.
Beijing has since retaliated, including targeting trade with Australia and discouraging its citizens from visiting the country.
Chinese travelers represent the largest group of tourists in Australia, as well as an important and attractive source of income for university students.
Payne acknowledged that Australia may have made itself a target by speaking out for a review on coronovirus, but said it was in Australia’s best long-term interests.
“There are times behind the curtain to pursue quiet diplomacy, but also to become our concern and inspire others to action,” he said.